I Know What an Onion Looks Like

Today we had a potluck at work and I signed up to make a turkey pumpkin chili. You know what I hate about recipes on the internet? You have to scroll for hours through a bunch of unnecessary gibberish before you get to the actual recipe. I don’t need a backstory about your dish and could not care less that your preschool-aged daughter, who is a picky eater, can’t get enough of it. This isn’t a novel (though the sheer number of words can make it seem like one), so you can skip the character development! I also don’t care that your aunt Ida insists you make this dish for every family gathering or that your coworkers always ask for the recipe. Maybe she’s suffering from dementia and they’re just kissing your ass. Your story means nothing without context. While you’re at it, you can also dispense with the humorous anecdotes, and for god’s sake, you don’t have to post pictures of the ingredients. I know what an onion looks like. Just give me two things: the list of ingredients and step-by-step directions.

I also hate when these recipes suggest substituting ingredients. This immediately makes me suspicious. If the dish calls for couscous but you suggest farro as an alternative, you come across as a little wishy-washy and have suddenly given me two recipes when I only asked for one. Pick an ingredient and own it, okay?

This is why I miss cookbooks. No muss, no fuss. You want a recipe for Chicken Kiev, it’s right there on page 79. No wading through endless drivel; one quick glance will tell you to grab unsalted butter, flour, eggs, parsley, chicken breasts, panko, etc. How I long for those simpler times.

In any case, the potluck was a big, tasty hit. I wasn’t sure if my workplace ever had them, given that this was the first one in my seven months there, but everybody really came through with some good stuff. In my experience with office potlucks, somebody always brings a veggie tray and another person will show up with a bag of chips. This feels like taking the easy way out, but I get it: not everybody has the time or skill to cook something. At least it’s food. Worse than that is the one guy who doesn’t bring anything in but still loads up his plate like it’s his god-given right. He’s probably the guy who takes home pens from the supply closet. I am happy to report that my coworkers all made an effort to impress. In addition to my chili, there were chicken wings, posole, artichoke spinach dip, spicy corn dip, baked lasagna, and brownies. All homemade. And yes, there was a veggie tray, but it was a nice balance with everything else.

Color me impressed.

My favorite part of the day was our team activity. This involved creating a “gingerbread house,” though the interpretation was very loose since we were given graham crackers instead of gingerbread. Figuring this gave us carte blanche freedom to think outside of the box, my team chose to forgo the house in favor of a train.

Which still kinda counts. Hobos, right? (Do hobos even still exist?)


I was proud of our effort and creativity.

Afterward, we had a skating party at the Main Street Square ice rink. Because I can’t maintain balance on icy surfaces to save my life, I chose to watch from the sidelines. I didn’t feel any overwhelming remorse over not being out there, because at least I was warm.

Best seat in the house.

Rapid City sure knows how to dress up for the holidays, huh?

18 thoughts on “I Know What an Onion Looks Like

  1. Exactly on the recipes! Also, when they show a video of them making it set to music. Why??? Sometimes I waste printer ink and just print the darned recipe to avoid all that, once I’ve made it and know I like it.

    I haven’t been to a work potluck since my first job in HS! I believe I always brought a jello salad!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Environment be damned, I’ve gone ahead and printed out recipes too for that very same reason. Plus, it’s hard to consult a laptop or cellphone while cooking. You keep having to unlock the screen and invariably your hands are messy. I’m Team Paper!


  2. Mark, I think the gingerbread/graham cracker choo-choo that your team created was BRILLIANT! Love the how you cleverly used paper for the steam, and the Starlight mints on the wheels!! 🙂

    “Rapid City sure knows how to dress up for the holidays, huh?” Yes, it sure does! Fun and festive!

    Hey, we finally got a tiny bit of snow last night, but nothing like you got. I’m hoping we get more tonight and tomorrow. It’s FREEZING here, and of course, I’m LOVIN’ it!


  3. I am so with you on the ubiquitous veggie trays (and the free rider eating without remorse). Five minutes in the grocery line are not equal to an hour or more on your feet in the kitchen. We live in LA — at least pony up for the Korean beef or burritos!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. My goodness! That does look like fun 🙂
    I don’t like all the preamble to recipes, either. Your validity resonates with me. Do you happen to have a basic two-cup recipe for banana bread? I lost mine. I’ve tried a good half-dozen from sites without my desired result. Dense. I want dense and sweet.


    1. It’s been a while since I made banana bread. I don’t have my go-to recipe handy (I probably deleted the link after scrolling through pages of endless drivel), but I know this one called for a mixture of white and brown sugar and was pleasantly dense and moist.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Fanny Farmer’s is my go-to banana bread recipe. Also, while the bread is still slightly warm, I put it in a gallon Ziploc bag to make the bread ‘sweat’, adding to the moistness and density.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I know what you mean about the recipes. I think they’re mostly fleshing it out with pointless crap so they have more space to stuff in advertising. (Even more pointless crap.) Cut to the printer version…

    (Cool train. Did you eat it?)


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